Making Money

42K “greenies” a year

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Yes, you read that correctly. The average person in the United States makes $42 000 a year before taxes. The post takes a practical approach to discuss hourly wages and how they can be used as a guide for career thinking. It then goes into detail about what it pays to work in different fields like retail, construction, and software development.

$42 000 a year is how much an hour

As a simple baseline calculation, let’s say you take 2 weeks off each year as unpaid vacation time. Then you would be working 50 weeks of the year, and if you work a typical 40 hours a week, you have a total of 2,000 hours of work each year. In this case, you can quickly compute the hourly wage by dividing the annual salary by 2000. Your yearly salary of $42,000 is then equivalent to an average hourly wage of $21 per hour.

What if you get 2 weeks of paid vacation, or you take no vacation time?

Now let’s consider the case where you get paid $42,000 a year, but you get 2 weeks of paid vacation. You get the same result if you work all year with no vacation time. In the previous case, we assumed 2 weeks of unpaid vacation, so your total year consisted of 50 weeks. But if you get paid for 2 extra weeks of vacation (at your regular hourly rate), or you actually work for those 2 extra weeks, then your total year now consists of 52 weeks. Assuming 40 hours a week, that equals 2,080 hours in a year. Your annual salary of $42,000 would end up being about $20.19 per hour.

What’s the total number of working days in 2021?

If you wanted to be even more accurate, you can count the exact number of working days this year. 2021 stars on a Friday (January 1, 2021) and ends on a Friday (December 31, 2021). It has a total of 365 days in the year including both weekdays and weekends. There are 104 weekend days (counting every Saturday and Sunday in the year), and 261 weekdays (Monday through Friday). So if you worked a normal 8 hour day on every weekday, and didn’t work any overtime on the weekends, you would have worked a total of 2,088 hours over the 2021 year. You can then convert your annual salary to an hourly wage of roughly $20.11 per hour.

What about the holidays?

Most companies give employees time off for various holidays, so that should really be included in the calculation. The problem is that different countries can vary in their national holidays, and your company may give certain days off but not others. On average, in the U.S. there are 7 major holidays: New Years Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving (since this is always a Friday), and Christmas. Many businesses also have an additional floating holiday that is sometimes used for Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, or one of the days near July 4th. Often this is based on whether one of those days falls on a Tuesday or Thursday. Adding that extra holiday can give employees an extra-long weekend. Some schools can also be off on Presidents Day, and banks may have their own official holidays. Retail businesses often have different rules for what’s considered a typical “business day”. Federal holidays may include Veterans Day, Columbus Day, Martin Luther King Day, and Washington’s birthday. Of course, holidays may also fall on a weekend day, in which case you might get the previous Friday or the following Monday off.


So although it is essential to know: 42000 a year is how much an hour? But the real question is how much you get after-tax, and how to manage well within 42000 dollars. Also, how much to save and invest for your goals are very important things to consider. It is still above the national median income for an individual and slightly below median household income. You can add to your income through side hustles. Although tough, it may be effective to build your passive income sources. That will help generate income without any active work and nicely augment your overall income.